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Rainoil Open quarterfinal preview: Babalola reunites with Atseye; Imeh battles Idoko

The tournament has taken shape and we have a feast on our hands…

Nigeria’s No.3, Abdulmumin Babalola and defending champion, Henry Atseye reunite at the Rainoil Open. This time, with Babalola seeking revenge and a semifinal spot.

It’s a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal encounter at this event between both men. In that match, Babalola dominated Atseye through the first set, closing it out 6-3. However, he sustained an eye injury whilst leaving the court for a toilet break and it was downhill for him from then. Atseye found his way back in, and as Babalola struggled with pain and a poor vision, Atseye’s confidence grew and his shots improved. Atseye would go on to win the match 3-6, 6-0, 6-2.

This year has started like the last for both men — brilliant performances en route to the quarterfinals. Atseye got his title-defense campaign up and running with a comfortable straight-set win over Philip Abayomi in the first round, and was rock solid in his 6-3, 6-3 dismissal of Chinedu Iwuagbwu in the second round. In the third round, the 29-year-old was cruising before Michael Chima retired with injury whilst trailing 2-6, 1-5. Babalola, like last year, now stands in his way.

Can Atseye scale the hurdle to remain on course?

Babalola has been equally as impressive. The 33-year-old has yet to drop more than 3 games in as many matches so far at the Ikoyi Club and will seek to keep up his blistering form. Against Christian Paul in the third round, the veteran ran riot, easing past the country’s Davis Cup team player, 6-1, 6-3 and making light work of what was billed to be a tough test.

Babalola has made it past the quarterfinals in all national tournaments this year. Can he get his revenge here and make progress?

In the other mouthwatering quarterfinal clash, top seed, Joseph Imeh will seek to maintain his momentum against Emmanuel Itodo. Off the court, both men enjoy a great relationship. They also, had a successful year during the 2017 NCC Tennis League, playing in the same team, Muller, and reached the final.

For Itodo in the today’s quarterfinal, it will be a mountain to surmount as Imeh has made it past the quarterfinals in five of his last six tournaments he’s played in. But you really can never rule out an upset.

In the women’s bracket, youngster Oiza Yakubu, who’s been impressive so far, will have her work cut out for her when she takes on former national champion, Christie Agugnom, while defending champion, Sarah Adegoke takes on Bunmi Are. Elsewhere, Blessing Samuel squares off against Ronke Akingbade, while Patience Onebamhoin faces Aanu Aiyegbusi.

ORDER OF PLAY

Centre Court 

  • Joseph Imeh vs Emmanuel Idoko – 9:30am
  • Sarah Adegoke vs Bunmi Are – not before 10:30am

Court 3

  • Albert Bikom vs Uche Oparaoji – 9:30am
  • Christie Agugbom vs Oiza Yakubu – not before 10:30am

Court 4

  • Iloputa Ikechukwu vs Sylvester Emmanuel – 9:30am
  • Aanu Aiyegbusi vs Patience Onebamhoin – not before 10:30am

Court 5 

  • Henry Atseye vs Abdulmumin Babalola – 9:30am
  • Ronke Akingbade vs Blessing Samuel – not before 10:30am
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